Tokelau is one of the world’s most remote countries - and the first to be powered fully by PV. SMA Solar Technology AG (SMA) delivered 93 Sunny Island inverters to control the standalone systems on the three coral islands and 205 Sunny Boy inverters to convert the direct current produced by the photovoltaic panels into the alternating current necessary for electrical appliances. The 1 MW system is the biggest standalone power system in the world.
Tokelau consists of three small atolls in the South Pacific Ocean. Its land area covers 10 square kilometres and it is located north of Samoa, reachable only by boat. Traditionally, all three atolls have relied almost exclusively on diesel generators for their electricity needs, but it has recently become the only country in the world to be fully powered by solar power.
Not only is the 1 MW overall system the biggest standalone power system on earth, but each one of the three individual systems by itself is bigger than any other SMA Sunny Island based system currently in existence, exceeding the current energy requirements of the 1,411 locals who live there and meeting 100% of their climate change obligations.
The three PV hybrid systems were installed by PowerSmart Solar of New Zealand. Work on the project started in mid-June using a total of 4,032 photovoltaic panels, 298 SMA inverters, 121 SMA Sunny Island Chargers and 1,344 batteries. A representative of SMA Australia spent almost a month in Tokelau offering training and support. Official commissioning took place on October 30th at a local ceremony, attended by Tokelaun leaders.
“SMA was chosen for this project because of the high quality and technical advancement of our products. We were also able to offer comprehensive training to the Tokelaun people so that they can maintain their system themselves while relying on our service team to provide technical consultation when necessary”, explains Zygmunt Nejman, General Manager of SMA Australia. “This is a perfect example of our long term commitment to the island nations of the South Pacific, where this type of PV hybrid system is ideal.”
“The Tokelau Renewable Energy Project has been a great success,” says Joe Suveinakama, general manager of the National Public Service of the Government of Tokelau, in Apia, Samoa. “Our commitment as global citizens is to make a positive contribution towards the mitigation of the impacts of climate change. As a people we are proud of this achievement.“
Tokelau's diesel generators used to burn up to 200 litres of fuel daily. Now, the country has eliminated it’s dependency on fossil fuels and can focus on repaying funds borrowed to implement this project. The nation also plans to address priorities in health and education using the savings from fuel costs.
The SMA Group generated sales of €1.7 billion in 2011 and is the global market leader for solar inverters, a key component of all PV plants and, as an energy management group, offers innovative key technologies for future power supply structures. It is headquartered in Niestetal, near Kassel, Germany, and is represented internationally in 21 countries. The Group employs more than 5,500 people worldwide. SMA’s broad product portfolio includes a compatible inverter for every type of module on the market and for all plant sizes. The product range includes both inverters for photovoltaic plants connected to the grid as well as inverters for off-grid systems. SMA is therefore able to provide ideal technical inverter solutions for all plant sizes and types. Since 2008, the Group’s parent company, SMA Solar Technology AG, has been listed on the Prime Standard of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange (S92) and also in the TecDAX index. In recent years, SMA has received numerous awards for excellence as an employer and achieved first place in the nationwide “Great Place to Work®” competition in 2011 and 2012.
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